Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Studying Love - part one

Lately, some friends and I have been doing a study on the 1 Corinthians 13 passage about love. And BOY, has it been convicting!!!

There is so much of a richness about the choice *to* love once you really examine what it means. We treat "love" so lightly-- we "fall in" and "fall out" of it, we love those shoes, we love our children, we love that hilarious comedy on TV, we love the way so-and-so does such-and-such... but biblical love as presented here, in this brotherly, one-anothering kind of love... well, it's a real challenge.

I'll share the biblical definitions (from the Greek & from biblical cross-references), and then I'll share with you the boiled-down, nitty-gritty "working" definition we've come up with for each of the attributes we've studies so far. The reason we are doing this is because we use many of these words in ways that are different from how the Bible uses & treats them, and we wanted to get clear on what, through 1 Corinthians, God is actually saying about love. The applicable and illuminating cross-references are listed at the end, in case you want to go deeper on any or all of these subjects.

Love is patient-- forbearing, slow to anger, enduring misfortune, not eager for punishment, overlooking offense

  • Working DEF of "patient"-- to endure & abound in Christlike grace towards even the most difficult people & situation

  • {Cross-refs: Eph 4:1-2, James 1:19-20, Prov 19:11, 1 Thess 5:14, 2 Pet 3:9, Exod 34:5-6, 1 Tim 1:15-16}
Love is kind-- pleasant, soft, tender, compassionate, tenderhearted, eager to show kindness... [opposites: bitter, harsh, sharp, hard]
  • Working DEF of "kind"-- treating others with a soft, tender awareness of our shared need for grace & forgiveness

  • {Cross-refs: Prov 15:1, Ps 133:1, Prov 16:24, Ps 64:3, Titus 2:5, Col 3:12-13, 2 Cor 6:3-10, Eph 4:31-32, Luke 6:27-36, Gal 5:22, Isa 30:18, Ps 103:9-14}
Love does not envy-- [envy: strongly desiring to possess the advantage enjoyed by another; hated by others, hating one another; rivalry]
  • Working DEF of "does not envy"-- contentedly rejoices in the life God has given me and rejoices with others in the life He's given them.

  • {Cross-refs: Job 5:2, Prov 14:20, Eccl 4:4, Titus 3:3, James 3:16, Gal 5:19-21, Gal 5:26, 1 Pet 2:1, 1 Cor 3:3, Rom 13:13-14}
Love does not boast-- [boast: like a vaulted ceiling; lifts itself; proud; haughty; arrogant about wisdom, might, riches, or the future]
  • Working DEF of "does not boast"-- lifts up Christ and His will, not self and my plans.

  • {Cross-refs: Ps 34:2, Jer 9:23-24, Prov 27:1, 1 Sam 2:3, Ps 10:2-5, Ps 5:5, James 4:16, Ps 12:3, 1 John 2:16}
Love is not arrogant-- [arrogant: self-exaltation]. Regarding arrogance, throughout the Bible we saw that "God hates", "God lays low", "He does not endure", and He "will repay". It is "an abomination". Again and again, we saw the attributes of humility-- humble in words, not full of pomp, abased, hoping in God rather than self, and that humility is looked on with favor and grace from the Lord.
  • Working DEF of "is not arrogant"-- one who actively roots out pride and approaches God, others, and life with humility.

  • {Cross-refs: Prov 8:13, James 4:16, 1 Sam 2:3, Is 13:11, Pr 16:5, Job 35:12, Ps 101:5, Isa 2:17, Ps 5:5, Ps 31:23, Is 2:11, Job 40:11-12, Pro 15:25, Pro 21:4, 2 Cor 12:7, 1 Tim 6:17, 1 John 2:16, 1 Pet 5:5}
Love is not rude-- [rude: unable to act with self control, interrupting, to act unbecomingly, seeking one's own advantage]
  • Working DEF of "is not rude"-- puts others first, seeks to benefit and please others before self

  • {Cross-refs: Prov 18:13, Romans 15:1, 1 Cor 9:23, Phil 2:21, 1 Cor 10:33, 1 Cor 10:24}
Love does not insist on its own way-- [does not insist on its own rights, never seeks its own to the hurt or neglect of others, lays aside selfish aims]
  • Working DEF of "does not insist on its own way"-- essentially, we couldn't boil it down any better than this, what the Scripture already specifically says. To me, the "does not insist on its own *rights*" definition was helpful, because our culture is so good at "standing up for", "demanding", and "expecting" our rights. So, for me, that was a helpful one.

  • {Cross-refs: Phil 2:1-7, Isa 56:10-12, 1 Cor 9:19-23, 1 Cor 10:32-33, Prov 18: 1-2, Romans 12:10, Gal 5:19-21, James 3:13-15, Matt 4:8, John 6:38, 2 Cor 8:9, James 2:8, Romans 15:1-3, Luke 9:23; 2 Tim 2:1, 3-4, 10; Romans 14:1, 4, 7-8, 10, 13, & 19}

This entire study has been only of the Word itself (not through a book, DVD series, etc.), and it has been so powerful. So many things have been much more illuminated and made clear in our hearts and minds as we've combed through what the whole counsel of God's Word has to say on each of these subjects. Each word piles up on top of the others to present a beautiful challenge of what Christ's love lived out in us can look like.

As I've looked at each of the specific definitions, I am challenged again and again by what God needs to do in my heart and life for me to really be living out love to the people around me. The description of "love" here is one that is not easily met. It is very easy to say "I love you"... but much harder to live in a kind, patient, selfless, content way-- the actions and attitude of love. I hope that sharing this will be helpful for someone else too.

Click here to see the remaining portion of this study (Studying Love-part two).


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